5000 Poppies - a tribute of respect and remembrance

Published on LEUT Kirsti Burtenshaw (author), LAC Michael Green (photographer)

Topic(s): Anzac Day, Remembrance Day

The creator of the poppy display, Mrs Lorraine Castley, with Commodore Liz Rushbrook, CSC, RAN. (photo: LAC Michael Green)
The creator of the poppy display, Mrs Lorraine Castley, with Commodore Liz Rushbrook, CSC, RAN.

A community project to ‘plant’ a massive field of 5000 handmade red poppies in Federation Square, Melbourne for Anzac Day 2015 is attracting interest from around Australia. The initial target of 5000 has been revised to a whopping 100,000 with an influx of contributions from crafty-types all seeking to help remember the sacrifices of servicemen and women.

Mr Phillip Johnson, one of Australia’s premier landscape designers, is the lead developer on the display which will see poppies gathered from all over Australia, and indeed the world, to serve as a spectacular tribute to a century of service by members of Australia’s Defence Forces.

A Canberra-based craft group of around 50 community members has been feverishly working to complete their contribution of poppies which they plan to send to Melbourne to add to the total.

To mark Remembrance Day this year the ladies celebrated their involvement in the ‘poppies initiative’ with their own display and morning tea in Belconnen with guest speaker Commodore Elizabeth Rushbrook, Director General of Navy Health.

Commodore Rushbrook spoke about a maritime perspective of the First World War, and in particular the Gallipoli campaign.

“Telling the stories of wartime is an important part of ensuring that we reflect on the events, remember the specific service and sacrifice of others and take the lessons into our lives today,” she said.

It was an activity close to the heart of one contributors, Mrs Kathleen Schroder, whose son Commander Andrew Schroder, former Commanding Officer of HMAS Harman, serves in the Royal Australian Navy.

“Throughout the spring of 1915 poppies flowered on the battlefields of Europe. Today the poppy symbolises both tragedy in war and a hope for a brighter future for those left behind. It is important all generations always remember and respect our past, the poppy display is a fitting tribute to this cause,” Mrs Schroder said.

It is envisaged that after Anzac Day 2015 the project is planned to tour nationally and then donated to the Australian War Memorial for future generations.

To contribute or for more information see http://5000poppies.wordpress.com/.

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Gallery: http://images.navy.gov.au/S20143482.